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The Rise and Fall of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh

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Zappos has been known to be that exciting company with a fun yet efficient office. Its novel way of “anything goes” strategy was wildly unheard of during its onset. Because of this, it even caught the eye of business executives and other industry leaders for its style of management. In fact, a few years after the company was founded, it was acquired by Amazon for $1.2 billion. But the company has seen quite the journey since its start. And the rise and fall of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh have been an interesting topic for many.

While on the outside, the man wanted to spread happiness into the world, he often struggled with alcohol and had personal demons he had to face. 

How Tony Hsieh built Zappos

Before leading Zappos, Hsieh, who is of Taiwanese descent, founded the startup LinkExchange. During his time in Zappos, Hsieh made it his mission to liven up the company with quirks. 

The company’s motto, “Create fun and a little weirdness,” represents his approach to leading his company. The company’s office in Nevada was filled with posters, streamers, stuffed animals, and other personal items of the team.

Hsieh often toured visitors to his zany office. Keeping it chill wearing casual jeans while twirling an umbrella in his hand.

His book, “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” made him a familiar name for up-and-coming industry leaders. Because of this, from the CEO, Hsieh quickly became a happiness guru preaching work-life balance. Aside from his fun persona, though, Hsieh also had the technical skills that helped Zappos become a success story.

He went on to make innovations in Zappos. He started the holacracy method, which gave office members more freedom for self-regulation.

It took away standard senior management roles and tried to create a more initiative-based workspace. Meanwhile, in 2015, Hsieh sent his employees an email saying that the company would switch entirely to self-management. 

This new system meant that roles and seniorities would be more flexible. However, staff said that it meant more meetings and other commitments to make the roles work. This would signal a turning point in the rise and fall of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.

Hsieh’s health problems

Despite the complaints, Zappos remained a trailblazer for making the workplace happy. Hsieh even invited the singer Jewel to bring his workers’ entertainment. 

Beneath all this, though, close friends and other coworkers said that Hsieh was suffering from social anxiety and face blindness. His inability to recognize faces often meant that he had to use post-it notes and other reminders to keep people around him in check.

Hsieh’s conditions worsened during the pandemic. Closed off from people, Hsieh would go on to retire from his position. He was also losing a lot of weight while drinking a lot. During this time, he began to develop an odd fascination with fire, among other things.

He eventually succumbed to death while at a party in November 2020. The cause of death was ruled to be related to alcohol. Days after his death, an outpouring of support from the industry washed over the news. 

The aftermath of Hsieh’s death

Today, Zappos’ CEO is Kedar Deshpande. While the company has continued its legacy as a fun-loving enterprise, the death of Hsieh has hit hard for many.

Friends of Hsieh note that while his quest to spread happiness was noble, he rarely took care of himself. The rise and fall of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh prove that business success is not the end-all, be-all. In the end, all the fame and material wealth will not amount to much if you don’t pay enough attention to health.

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Embrace Failure to Unlock Success: 3 TED Talks That Show Us How

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We’ve all experienced it – that sinking feeling of disappointment in the wake of a perceived failure. It’s a universal moment where aspirations seem to crumble and self-doubt looms large.

If you’re in that place right now and are looking for inspiration, you’ve landed on the right article.

In this post, we delve into three TED Talks that unpack the enigma of failure and its unexpected role in cultivating success. These talks offer a kaleidoscope of perspectives on why failure isn’t just an inevitable milestone but a necessary companion on the road to success.

1. Embrace the near win (Sarah Lewis)

Sarah Lewis TED Talk

When talking about success and mastery, the concept of failure often carries a negative connotation, something people try to avoid. However, in her enlightening 2014 TED Talk, “Embrace the Near Win,” art historian Sarah Lewis offers a refreshing perspective on the role of near-failures in our journey toward success.

Her insights, drawn from a blend of personal experiences and historical anecdotes, reveal the hidden power of the almost-failure, the near win, in shaping our path to mastery.

Lewis’s journey into understanding the value of near wins began with her first job at the Museum of Modern Art, working on a retrospective of painter Elizabeth Murray. She recalls a significant moment when Murray pointed out that some of her early works didn’t meet her expectations. One piece, deemed a failure by Murray, was discarded, only to be rescued by a neighbor who saw its value.

This incident sparked a realization in Lewis: success is fleeting, but the pursuit of creativity and mastery is a continuous process. It’s not the success itself but the near wins along the way that propel us forward.

“Mastery is not a commitment to a goal but to a constant pursuit.” – Sarah Lewis

Lewis extends this concept through the metaphor of archery, describing a visit to watch varsity archers. She observed the archer’s paradox, where the path to hitting the target involves aiming slightly off-course. This paradox mirrors the journey to mastery – it’s not about hitting the bullseye with every shot but understanding and valuing the near misses that drive continuous improvement. 

As Lewis eloquently puts it, “Mastery is in the reaching, not the arriving. It’s in constantly wanting to close that gap between where you are and where you want to be.”

  • Actionable Tip: Start recognizing and valuing your near wins. Whether in professional endeavors, creative pursuits, or personal goals, take time to reflect on those moments that fell just short of success. Understand that these instances are not failures but stepping stones towards mastery. They are opportunities to learn, adjust, and grow. By embracing your near wins, you align yourself with a mindset of continuous improvement and lifelong learning.

You can watch Lewis’ TED Talk here.

2. Success, failure, and the drive to keep creating (Elizabeth Gilbert)

Elizabeth Gilbert TED Talk

Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey, as recounted in her 2014 TED Talk “Success, Failure, and the Drive to Keep Creating,” is a profound exploration of the emotional landscapes shaped by both success and failure.

Gilbert, best known for her bestselling book “Eat, Pray, Love,” delves into the complexities of how success can be as disorienting as failure, offering a raw and honest perspective on the creative process and the importance of staying true to one’s passion.

Gilbert begins her talk with a humorous anecdote about being recognized for “Eat, Pray, Love,” setting the stage for a deeper discussion on the aftermath of success. She describes the daunting task of writing a follow-up book, knowing it would be impossible to please everyone. This predicament led her to a significant realization: the importance of writing for the sake of creation itself rather than for the outcome. 

“I had to find a way to make sure that my creativity survived its own success.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Gilbert takes us back to her early days as an unpublished diner waitress, a time filled with rejection and self-doubt. Despite the constant setbacks, she found solace and purpose in writing. This period taught her a crucial lesson: her love for writing was greater than her fear of failure. She states, “I loved writing more than I loved my own ego.” This mindset was what propelled her through the darkest times and what she later relied on after her success.

  • Actionable Tip: identify what you love more than yourself, make that your home, and anchor yourself in it. When faced with the extremes of success or failure, remind yourself of this foundation. It’s not about the accolades or the setbacks; it’s about the devotion to what you truly love. This grounding force is what will keep you balanced and focused, no matter what life throws your way.

You can watch Gilbert’s TED Talk here.

3. The unexpected benefit of celebrating failure (Astro Teller)

Astro Teller TED Talk

Astro Teller’s 2016 TED Talk, “The Unexpected Benefit of Celebrating Failure,” offers a fascinating glimpse into the culture of X (formerly Google X), a place he describes as a ‘moonshot factory.’

Teller’s insights provide valuable lessons on how embracing failure can drive innovation and lead to extraordinary achievements.

Teller begins by describing the unconventional atmosphere at X, where an aerospace engineer might collaborate with a fashion designer. This diversity fosters an environment where radical ideas are not just encouraged but expected. The key to their approach is to tackle the hardest parts of a problem first, actively seeking to ‘kill’ their projects early on.

“We’ve got this interesting balance going where we allow our unchecked optimism to fuel our visions. But then we also harness enthusiastic skepticism to breathe life, breathe reality into those visions.” – Astro Teller

One of the most compelling aspects of Teller’s talk is the balance between “unchecked optimism” and “enthusiastic skepticism.” This approach allows the team at X to dream big and remain grounded in reality. 

They celebrate the process of learning through failure, which is a radical departure from the norm in most organizations. As Teller puts it, “We spend most of our time breaking things and trying to prove that we’re wrong.”

  • Actionable Tip: Create an environment where failure is not just accepted but is seen as a valuable part of the learning process. Encourage experimentation and risk-taking, and when failures occur, focus on the lessons learned rather than the setbacks. This approach can lead to a more innovative, resilient, and dynamic team or individual.

You can watch Teller’s TED Talk here.

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What Are Marketers Doing in 2024? [Budgets, Platforms, and AI]

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There’s one topic dominating the marketing sphere: artificial intelligence (AI). And many marketers are hopping on board the AI train. Aside from AI, what other strategies are marketers investing in? Plus, what are their plans for achieving their marketing goals in 2024?

Budgets

calculator app

Sagefrog released its 2024 Marketing Mix report. They surveyed various professionals across different niches and received 2,400 responses. According to 48% of the participants, they will increase their marketing budgets. Most marketers will focus their efforts on event, direct, and content marketing. 

Meanwhile, Canto reveals that marketers aim to increase content volume rather than raise their budget in 2024. Plus, here are the top five current challenges with the content creation process:

  • Keeping up with the increasing demand for multiple channels
  • Allocating budget and resources
  • Aligning teams for better collaboration and workflows
  • Locating and accessing assets
  • Maintaining brand consistency

Platforms

social media icons

Marketers can leverage various channels to promote their business and cast a wider net to entice a new audience. For instance, WARC also published their survey (The Voice of the Marketer 2024) on which platforms marketers will invest in 2024. YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram are their top three platforms to post more content on.

Another survey that marketers participated in was Mediaocean’s “The Mediaocean Current: The 2024 Advertising Outlook.” Marketers for this survey will increase advertising investment on social media platforms, digital display and video, and connected TV.

AI and Marketing

chatgpt logo

Over 300+ marketers participated in Foundation Inc.’s report: “The State of AI Marketing.” Most marketers use AI in the workplace and for content creation. Despite adopting AI for content creation, these marketers believe that AI-generated content is worse compared to content created by humans. Plus, the marketers think it’s moderately useful to their job.

Kaltura has also provided another survey on AI use in marketing. Marketers in their study said they will increase AI usage in 2024. At the time of the survey, 88% had experimented with AI and 69% had subscribed to an AI tool. Like the previous study, marketers aren’t still completely satisfied with AI use. For instance, their top three reasons for not using AI are:

  • Data security
  • Integration with current systems
  • Ethical and privacy issues

Besides that, they’re also not impressed with AI’s tone of voice, quality of generated content, and committing SEO penalties.

Effective Marketing Strategies

video recording

Now that you have the pulse on the latest marketing trends learn which strategies are effective in driving your marketing goals in 2024.

Hubspot reports that these are the top five trends that create an impact:

Short-form Videos

If you want to capture your audience’s attention in a few seconds, short-form videos must be added to your content calendar. The content is up to you, but make sure that it’s edited properly and published on various platforms to reach more audiences. You could hire an actor to represent your brand. Or, you can use animation to make it even more compelling. But if you don’t have an editor on board but want to try videos, you can use AI-powered video editors to convert your written content.

Content Presenting Brand Values

If you want to connect with your audience and vice versa, you need to be transparent with your brand values. Authenticity brings you closer to your audience. One way you can go about this is by publishing a blog post about the purpose of your brand or business. Another example could be presenting your authentic brand through videos. Employees can be your “actors” and show how they interact with customers and exemplify your values through customer service and communication.

Influencer Marketing Campaigns

You can never go wrong by reaching out to influencers to introduce your brand to a whole new audience. Ensure that you find the best influencers to include in your marketing campaigns. The best way to find influencers without browsing manually is by using an influencer marketing platform. This helps you find the best influencer for your niche.

Social Media Selling

Dedicate some time to promote your products or services on social media through social selling. Social selling can entice followers and your target audience to watch your livestream. A new audience can learn more about your products while loyal customers get the latest updates, exclusive products, or service discounts!

Mobile-Friendly Website

This one’s easy to do with a web developer on board. After all, many internet users use their smartphones to browse and shop. Optimizing your website for mobile will enhance user experience. In turn, it will lead them to browse your website without a hitch. Additionally, if you have an optimized mobile website, this allows users to purchase without having to switch to another device.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve seen what marketers will be up to in 2024, the question is, should you do what other marketers are doing in 2024? On the one hand, you’d like to follow their strategies since theirs have worked in the past and are replicating or yielding better results. On the other hand, you might prefer doing what could work for your business and adjusting strategies.

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King of Couture: How Bernard Arnault Turns Everything into Gold

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The world of couture is one of opulence and decadence, and it is ruled by a king who built a global empire from the world’s finest threads and most luxurious fragrances. We’ve heard about Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, but most of us are unaware of Bernard Arnault, the Chairman and CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Let’s learn about this modern-day King Midas and billionaire saga.

Early Life

bernard arnault

Born in Roubaix, France, in 1949, Bernard Arnault was one of the five children of Jean Arnault and Marie-Josèphe. He grew up in a middle-class household, thanks to the engineering company his father owns. At 18, he moved to Paris, where he studied civil engineering and graduated with honors. During this time, he was able to visit famous fashion houses, developing an interest in the luxury goods niche.

After graduation, Arnault returned home to work for his father’s construction business. His business savvy enabled him to turn the business into a success. From this, he gained enough money to invest in the stock market and branch out to found his own investment company, Groupe Arnault. Through this, he started acquiring stakes in many other companies, including luxury spirits company Moët Hennessy and fashion brand Louis Vuitton.

Business Beginnings

Bernard Arnault’s acquisition of the two companies led to its merger to become LVMH. Before the end of the 1980s, LVMH became one of the world’s top luxury goods brands. He became chair and CEO in 1989 and has since held these positions.

Under Bernard’s leadership, LVMH became the owner of a wide array of high-end brands: Christian Lacroix, Loewe, Givenchy, Céline, the DFS group, and Sephora, to name a few. The company owns many more household name brands in more than 70 countries. This success made Bernard one of the world’s wealthiest men and one of the most influential in the fashion industry.

Expanding His Kingdom

bernard arnault

These key tactics summarize Bernard Arnault’s business expansion strategy:

1. Strategic Acquisitions: Arnault’s acquisitions of iconic brands across various sectors have made him master the deal, strengthening LVMH’s foothold in the industry. We can find its reach in the following:

  • Fashion: Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Fendi, Kenzo, Marc Jacobs, Emilio Pucci, Celine, and Stella McCartney
  • Watches and Jewelry: Bulgari,Tag Heuer, Zenith, and Chaumet
  • Wine and Spirits: Moët & Chandon, Hennessy, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Dom Pérignon, Ruinart, and Krug

2. Building Synergies: Arnault’s acquisitions do not end there, he integrates them within LVMH. It uses synergies across divisions for shared resources, cross-brand collaborations, and leveraging brand prestige. 

3. Empowering Brand Identity: Arnault respects the individual heritage and identities of all the brands he acquires. He knows that each brand has a unique character that has its own specific audience. Thus, he maintains each brand’s creative autonomy and artistic direction to ensure authenticity and quality.

4. Innovation and Craftsmanship Focus: Arnault invests in research and development to make sure that each brand is innovative. He also greatly values traditional craftsmanship to maintain each brand’s highest quality standards.

5. Global Expansion: Arnault’s recognition of the emerging economies in Asia and its growing luxury market enabled him to aggressively expand LVMH’s presence through store openings, partnerships, and customized marketing campaigns.

6. Communication and Marketing: Arnault understands the power of storytelling and developing a strong brand image. He believes in using targeted marketing campaigns, celebrity endorsements, and hosting exclusive events to create a desire and exclusivity for LVMH brands.

7. Long-Term Vision: Arnault looks to the future with LVMH by always looking for new growth opportunities without compromising the company’s core values.

Bernard Arnault’s Net Worth

bernard arnault

With a net worth of $162 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, it would seem that Arnault has that Midas touch. He has this knack of turning everything he touches into gold. Struggling brands were revitalized into lucrative powerhouses. Brand names such as Dior, Dom Pérignon, and Givenchy rose in value and popularity thanks to this King’s guidance. 

Final Thoughts

With a stellar orchestration of ambition, strategic mastery, and speaking the exquisite language of luxury, Bernard Arnault is truly a King. He built his kingdom by spinning gold from the threads of fashion, champagne, and expert craftsmanship. His relentless innovation and respect for heritage have him etched his name in the luxury industry.

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